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August 31, 2018

Attention: Time to Focus on Life, Not on Body

Woman throwing leaves to Focus on Life

Contributor: Camille Williams, MA, NCC, LCPC, Eating Disorder Program Coordinator at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center

Have you ever noticed how negative thoughts about the body can pull someone away from the focus on life? Maybe you have experienced it yourself or know someone who has. Drowning in negative or obsessive thoughts about appearance makes it hard to enjoy conversations with loved ones or even go for a peaceful walk outside.

Those moments can be all about: How do I look in this outfit? Does my makeup look ok? What is that person thinking of me? I would look so much better if I lost weight.

If those are the thoughts present during a peaceful walk, then that experience is not going to be enjoyable or an opportunity for self-care.

The Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skill, mindfulness, is widespread and highly regarded. Sometimes mindfulness can seem intense with specific practices of meditation such as needing a quiet, serene space with gentle music, candles, and your eyes closed.

However, in its most basic form, it is really quite easy and can be practiced anywhere at any time. It is merely choosing what to be attentive and to focus on in life. Going back to the example of a peaceful walk: attention can be given to negative body image thoughts, or attention can be focused on the types of trees and foliage all around.

The challenge for those who have struggled with body image for a long time is that the mind has been trained and has practiced many times choosing the body as its primary focus. This is why those negative thoughts may happen naturally without much awareness.

Woman sitting on a cliff thinking about BED recoveryAnd yet the impact of attention frequently being placed on the body is destructive in many areas of life. Therefore, practicing mindfulness and focusing attention on the positive and meaningful aspects of life may take some time. With practice and training of the mind, it can become a new habit and routine.

This is a practice that can begin today. Maybe start each day with an intention based on values or things that are important to you such as, “Today, I will focus on connecting with others.”

Then, if negativity or judgments show up, call a friend or make sure you are fully present and engaged in the time you are already spending with someone.

Or maybe trying mindfulness check-ins throughout the day would be helpful by asking, “What am I focusing on right now? And, is this where I want my attention to be?”

If the answer is no, then choose something else. Maybe getting immersed in an excellent book or spending a few minutes focusing on breathing would be more meaningful or productive.

The more you practice mindfulness and focusing attention on values and meaning, the easier and more natural it will get. Start today and notice how shifting attention and being mindful can impact your wellness including increased contentment with yourself, more positive experiences with others, and overall life satisfaction.


Camille WilliamsAbout the Author: Camille Williams, MA, NCC, LCPC

As the Eating Disorder Program Coordinator, Camille supports the development of curriculum, supervises the eating disorder specialist, and provides group therapy. She also educates and trains all staff on campus and advocates for eating disorder awareness through publications.

Camille started at Timberline Knolls as a Behavioral Health Specialist. She then transitioned into the Eating Disorder Specialist (EDS) role. In this position for nearly five years, she developed her skills and competence in working with the eating disorder population.

Camille received a Bachelor of Arts degree in both psychology and sociology from Augustana College in Rock Island, IL. She then went on to earn a Master of Arts in Clinical Professional Psychology from Roosevelt University, IL.

Camille is a member of the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (IAEDP).


The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on September 4, 2018.
Reviewed & Approved on September 4, 2018 by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

Published on EatingDisorderHope.com

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